Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the ultraviolet irradiation industry has seen an unprecedented surge in demand for germicidal solutions. UV-C light is a short-wavelength, ultraviolet light that kills germs by inactivating a microorganism’s DNA. Germicidal UV-C energy is just one of three proven methods identified by ASHRAE of controlling airborne infection. The other two are ventilation and particle filtration.

However, although UV-C is effective in killing other varieties of coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, scientists do not yet know about the impact of UV-C on COVID-19. The ultraviolet germicidal waveform (253.7 nm) kills every known microorganism including bacteria, viruses, molds and other pathogens – even antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Proven, Mainstream Technology

We have redoubled our educational focus and hired a communications manager to oversee these efforts"

Therefore, it's incumbent on facility engineers to use multilayer preventative infection-control measures such as germicidal UV-C to help ensure that whatever pathogen is not “killed” by one method (say filtering or cleaning) is inactivated by another (UV-C). UV Resources, Santa Clarita, Calif., helped establish ultraviolet air and surface treatment as a mainstream technology.

However, there is still a surprising amount of doubt and misinformation surrounding the application of UV-C technology, says Daniel Jones, President, UV Resources. “We have redoubled our educational focus and hired a communications manager to oversee these efforts,” he said.

air distribution systems

“While some bacteria and viruses are more susceptible to UV disinfection than others, all microorganisms tested do respond at the appropriate doses,” says Jones. “And, unlike antibiotics and vaccines, there is no way for microbes to develop a resistance to the germicidal energy of UV-C.”

In-duct germicidal UV-C systems are installed in air-handling units or air distribution systems to inactivate microorganisms that propagate allergens and to disinfect moving airstreams “on-the-fly,” translating into better indoor air quality (IAQ), improved occupant productivity, and lower incidences of sick days.

emergency waiting rooms

Operating 24/7/365, upper-room germicidal fixtures can inactivate microbes in under a second

A UV-C lamp system is a complete solution that includes a UV-C lamp, wiring harness or some means of connecting the lamp to an electronically-matched ballast, and can include accessories such as lamp/ballast monitors, safety switches, viewport/access doors and lamp timers.

Upper-room germicidal UV-C fixtures — ideal for infection control — work by interrupting the transmission of airborne infectious diseases in high traffic communal areas. Immunocompromised and contagious individuals in emergency waiting rooms, urgent care facilities, doctor offices or senior living centers increase the potential for community spread by positioning potentially undiagnosed/untreated patients near others.

upper-room germicidal fixtures

The upper-room UV-C fixtures utilize the natural rise-and-fall of convection or mechanical air currents to lift airborne infectious agents above seven feet, where they are exposed to UV-C irradiation and killed. Operating 24/7/365, upper-room germicidal fixtures can inactivate microbes in under a second, including measles, mumps, TB, and cold viruses.

These fixtures are wall-mounted and use baffles to direct the UV-C energy upward and outward ensuring that no UV-C energy enters the occupied portion of the room. Kill ratios of up to 99.9% on a first-pass basis have been modeled, and concentrations are further reduced by each subsequent pass of recirculated air (“multiple dosing”).

The ultraviolet irradiation industry has come into limelight in the current situation

The powerful GLO Upper-Room Germicidal Fixture from UV Resources delivers up to 350% more irradiance than conventional upper air UV systems

elevate infection control

“Healthcare and commercial office buildings have traditionally represented the early adopters of UV-C technology to disinfect airstreams, HVAC surfaces and the upper air,” says Jones. “The healthcare industry has once again led the surge in use of UV-C during this current pandemic. However, the unprecedented global impact of this pandemic will elevate infection control and life-safety issues to the forefront of vulnerabilities that can lead to business-crippling crises in every business across every industry.”

Just as no one would operate an HVAC system without air filters, the time is near when no one will operate HVAC/R systems without UV-C installed, says Jones. However, UV-C technology has long been misunderstood and therefore under-utilized in the HVAC market.

Air-stream disinfection systems

Upper-room UV-C fixtures cost as little as $2.50 - $3.10 per square foot of treated space

UV Resources has been a key driver in advancing this technology; collaborating on UV-C research, authoring white papers and technical articles aimed at educating, and leading the industry’s expansion through science and education. “Indeed, our industry educational roots can be traced to our late founder and respected industry leader, Forrest Fencl, who pioneered the modern application of UV-C in HVAC/R equipment and contributed countless hours serving ASHRAE as a Distinguished Lecturer on UV-C,” says Jones.

Upper-room UV-C fixtures cost as little as $2.50 - $3.10 per square foot of treated space. Air-stream disinfection systems range from $0.60 - $0.80 per cfm (cubic feet per minute), and HVAC Surface Disinfection systems are approximately $0.15 - $0.20 per cfm, literally bargains when compared to human lives, lost productivity, healthcare costs and healthcare resources.

air conditioning system

It’s easy to think of UV-C as high-tech and therefore expensive, but this simply isn’t true. A UV-C coil irradiation system has an average installed cost of $0.20 per cfm, and many users report that their cost for an installed UV-C system featuring high output lamps was even less.

Using a 10,000-cfm system as an example, the installed UV-C fixtures would cost $2,000, with an annual operating cost of $188 at $0.10/kW – operating 24/7/365. That is less than 1% of the average power savings gained through a more efficient (better heat transfer and lower pressure drop) air conditioning system.

reduce energy consumption

Virtually all commercial HVAC/R systems are potential candidates for UV-C because of the universal benefits it brings, including:

  • destruction of surface and airborne microorganisms;
  • the restoration and preservation of heat transfer and airflow capacities to "as-built" condition;
  • improved indoor air quality; and
  • reduced maintenance.

On the human side, providing ‘clean air’ has taken on a whole new meaning of providing a safe environment"

Adding UV-C to existing HVAC/R systems can reduce energy consumption by up to 25%, while improving IAQ, airflow volume and comfort levels. Users report that UV-C installations are very cost-effective, with many customers achieving paybacks in less than six months on energy use alone. They also report that UV installations cost no more, and sometimes less, than a professionally executed coil cleaning.

efficiency-enhancing technology

The focus at this moment for engineers and facility managers is infection control and improved IAQ. By using UV-C, in both upper-room and in HVAC systems, they can have the dual benefit of providing a healthier environment for occupants and reducing the performance-robbing impact of bacterial buildup on AHU cooling coils.

“On the human side, providing ‘clean air’ has taken on a whole new meaning of providing a safe environment,” says Jones. Cost-concerned managers should understand that UV-C fixtures can be installed for an average of <$0.20 per cfm – a fraction of the 10-25% potential energy and maintenance savings yielded by the efficiency-enhancing technology, he comments.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

In case you missed it

Honeywell Applies Machine Learning To Boost Energy Efficiency Of Buildings
Honeywell Applies Machine Learning To Boost Energy Efficiency Of Buildings

Machine learning provides a tool to lower energy costs in a building, and Honeywell has launched a platform that incorporates the newer technology. Combining self-learning algorithms with building automation, Honeywell Forge Energy Optimization is a cloud-based system that analyzes a building’s energy consumption pattern and adjusts its settings. “We can help building portfolio owners fine-tune their energy expenditures to drive efficiencies and create more sustainable practices,” says David Trice, Vice President and General Manager, Honeywell Connected Buildings. Autonomous building solutions Honeywell says the autonomous, closed-loop building solution may deliver double-digit energy savings while decreasing a building’s carbon footprint. It can be implemented without significant capital expense or changes to a building’s current operational processes. The system autonomously and continually optimizes a building’s internal set points across hundreds of assets every 15 minutes by evaluating whether the HVAC system is running at peak efficiency.  When analyzing when to make an adjustment, the system considers factors such as time of day, weather, occupancy levels and other data points. The system considers factors such as time of day, weather, occupancy levels Honeywell Forge Energy Optimization calculates its decisions 96 times per 24-hour period in every building in a portfolio. Deployment is a simple plug-and-play process with no changes needed to business mechanics. Systems do not need to be rip-and-replaced. Results of the technology The technology has been demonstrated in a pilot at Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, achieving an initial 10% energy savings. The pilot achieved the extra savings over and beyond what was achieved earlier in the highly smart, energy-efficient building with fully connected lighting, cooling, building management, power and efficiency control optimized based on real-time occupancy. The pilot also uncovered local control issues with the chiller plant and fresh air handling unit that were not adjusting to set points. “Honeywell Forge [was able] to drive further energy savings beyond our achievable optimization with the techniques we [had],” says Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, HBMSU’s Chancellor. The university is collaborating with Honeywell to support the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to drive operational efficiencies. Energy consumption in commercial buildings is significant. Buildings and buildings construction combined are responsible for more than 36% of global final energy consumption and nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Energy demand in these sectors continues to rise, driven by improved access to energy in developing countries, greater ownership and use of energy-consuming devices, and rapid growth in global buildings’ floor areas. Opportunities for energy saving It is a market where the potential impact of greater efficiencies is huge It is a market where the potential impact of greater efficiencies is huge. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning often presents the largest opportunity for energy savings in a commercial building. “Buildings aren’t static steel and concrete – they are dynamic ecosystems and their energy needs fluctuate based on ever-changing variables like weather and occupancy,” says Trice. “We are evolving building operations far beyond what would be possible even with a robust team of engineers and the rules they code in their building management system.”

Elon Musk Expresses His Vision For Residential HVAC Innovation – Should We Listen?
Elon Musk Expresses His Vision For Residential HVAC Innovation – Should We Listen?

When a visionary industrial designer turns his attention to the HVAC industry, it’s probably wise to take note. Recently, technology entrepreneur and philanthropist, Elon Musk expressed his vision for residential HVAC, based in part on a new heat pump his engineers designed for the Tesla Model Y electric compact sport utility vehicle. Efficient, quiet home HVAC system According to several reports, Musk seeks to build an efficient and quiet HVAC system for the home, piggybacking on the technology used to make heaters for the newest Tesla Model Y. It’s the first of Tesla’s electric cars to use a heat pump, which is more efficient than previous electric heating systems. Tesla’s previous vehicle models used resistance heating, which is a battery hog Tesla’s previous vehicle models used resistance heating, which is a battery hog. The new heat pump component, including a compressor/chiller and liquid cooled condenser, is designed to be more energy-efficient and provides a more reliable vehicle operation range in cold weather conditions. Model Y heat pump “The model Y heat pump is some of the best engineering I’ve seen in a while,” said Musk on Twitter, adding “[The] team did next-level work.” Musk would ‘love to do HVAC that’s quiet and efficient with humidity control and HEPA filter’ for the home. Tesla car-inspired temperature controls Musk stated that he imagines a full-home HVAC system that is inspired by and maybe linked with the temperature controls inside someone’s Tesla vehicle. The proposal is in line with Musk’s mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy. He said, “Reducing a home’s energy usage while deploying solar power capacity are complementary goals”. High-efficiency particulate air filters Tesla HEPA filters are about 10 times larger than a normal automotive cabin air filter Tesla already has experience with HVAC systems and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters used to clean the cabin air in their Model 5 and Model X vehicles. The Tesla HEPA filters are about 10 times larger than a normal automotive cabin air filter and about “100 times more effective,” according to the company. Tesla HEPA filters The filters remove at least 99.97% of the fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, as well as bacteria, viruses, pollen and mold spores. Tesla refers to the extreme level of air cleaning as ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode’. Among other benefits, the filtering system protected California drivers from smoke and kept the vehicles’ cabin air clean during the recent wildfires. Musk first mentioned home air conditioning systems about two years ago, alluding to a home HVAC system that is quiet and efficient with humidity control and a HEPA filter. HEPA filter in a home system “The use of a HEPA filter in a home system would be a ‘life changer’ for people with allergies”, says Musk. The growing popularity of home air purifier products supports the conclusion. Communication between a Tesla vehicle and a Tesla home climate system would allow an intelligent air conditioning system to ‘know’ exactly when a resident will get home and only cool the home as appropriate to save energy. Energy-efficient, high performance HVAC systems Musk has also questioned the wisdom of home air conditioner systems that make pure, fresh water Musk has also questioned the wisdom of home air conditioner systems that make pure, fresh water and then dump it on the ground. The HVAC market has had its share of innovation in recent years, as today’s more energy-efficient, quieter and better-performing systems can attest. Smart thermostats, climate control systems There has also been lots of development in the area of smart thermostats and climate control systems, with the results approximating what Musk envisions achieving with communications between his smart vehicles and smart home systems. But is it time to rethink the technologies again? There is certainly opportunity in the market for any systems that provide better, more sustainable performance, no matter where the ideas originate. Given Musk’s success envisioning a future of electric cars and lower-cost space travel (among other ideas), his thoughts on the future of the HVAC market are at least worth considering.

HVAC Apprenticeships: Investment In Extraordinary Times
HVAC Apprenticeships: Investment In Extraordinary Times

These are unprecedented times for the cooling, heating and ventilation industries. Our ways of operating have been dramatically altered. For many organisations, the short-term focus has been on survival, but as we tentatively look towards the recovery phrase, we are being presented with the chance to embed new ways of working which offer the opportunity for our industries to lead the charge towards future growth. The impact of COVID-19 has the potential to amplify the skills shortages which were threatening to cripple our industries even before we were faced with the challenges of ‘working in lockdown’. Data from the Department of Education has shown that we are failing to attract enough young engineers to fill the posts available. For those that were starting an apprenticeship, a report by the Institute of Refrigeration found that core engineering skills deemed extremely important by employers were not being met by recently recruited apprentices. These issues combined with the disruption young people are now experiencing to their education and training, have the potential to dramatically increase the skills gap. Apprenticeship Trailblazers Having delivered training in the HVACR industry for over thirty years, I believe the launch of the new RACHP Engineering Technician Apprenticeship offers us the first real opportunity to work together to drive up standards and revive the interest of young people in considering a career in the cooling, heating and ventilation industries. A report by the Institute of Refrigeration found that core engineering skills deemed extremely important by employers were not being met by recently recruited apprentices Known as a Trailblazer, this new industry-led apprenticeship saw employers, for the first time, define the new frameworks and standards. This involvement means we should be confident that young people are being trained and assessed to the level required. However, to ensure the continued success of Trailblazers we need all in industry to engage with this new apprenticeship framework and work closely with Colleges and Training providers to implement it, especially in these difficult times. The young people we support today with quality advice, knowledge and skills, will be our workforce of tomorrow. Futureproofing Programmes I am aware that the introduction of the new Trailblazers has not been without its challenges, particularly around the introduction of End-Point Assessment. Yet I believe it is this, that will future-proof our apprenticeship programmes. I believe it is this [Trailblazers], that will future-proof our apprenticeship programmes Instead of being assessed continually throughout their course, all apprentices now must undertake an end-point assessment to complete their qualification. The independent End-Point Assessor’s role is to test whether each apprentice has gained the skills, knowledge and behaviours outlined in the standard set by employers. Unlike previous training programmes, the apprentice is then graded, and like it or not, this is playing an important role in developing the employability attributes of young people entering our industries. I have seen first-hand how the grading system is motivating apprentices to work harder and stretch themselves to achieve a pass, merit or distinction. Enhancing Training With Skills Competitions The new industry-led apprenticeship provides a strong platform for employers to raise standards in our industries, but there is more that we can do to develop our apprentices further. Each year, thousands of young people enhance the training they receive through their apprenticeship by participating in WorldSkills UK Competitions. The ACR industry skill competition ‘SkillFridge’, is delivered in partnership with WorldSkills UK, and assesses apprentices’ knowledge, practical and employability skills in time pressured conditions. The competition is free to enter, and employers can access the Apprenticeship Levy to support their apprentices’ involvement. At last year’s National Final, held in front of over 70,000 visitors at WorldSkills UK LIVE, the UK’s largest apprenticeship, skills and careers event, 95% of those competing said their personal and employability skills had improved after taking part in the competitions. Employers I have spoken with have also remarked on the positive impact competitions have had on their wider workforce, who, spurred on by the apprentices’ success have been encouraged to look at their own training needs. Mark Forsyth with apprentice Chris Bailie who won Silver at WorldSkills Sao Paulo 2015 The ongoing development of our workforce is an issue that has also been highlighted by the Institute of Refrigeration. It found that there is an urgent need for CPD for those who have entered our industries in the last five years, with many showing significant skills gaps. WorldSkills UK’s counterpart WorldSkills Russia has addressed this issue by working with employers and schools to extend its skills competition training programme to enable a wider age range and more diverse groups to enter, not just apprentices. Implementing Global Standards Age eligible winners of SkillFridge are invited to compete for a place in the team that will represent the UK at WorldSkills, the ‘Skills Olympics’. The new industry-led apprenticeship provides a strong platform for employers to raise standards in our industries I am currently remotely training apprentices Dominic Dray who works for Royale Refrigeration and attends Eastleigh College, and Jack Newton, who works for Crowther and Shaw Ltd and attend Leeds College for the next WorldSkills event which takes place in Shanghai, China, next year. There is only one place on the team to represent the UK in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, and whether its Dominic or Jack who is successful, they will experience an incredible journey and unique method of personal development. Representing your country on an international stage and competing alongside talented peers with the aim of being crowned the best in the world at your skill is an opportunity like no other.  Powering The Technical Education Sector Working with my fellow trainers to support WorldSkills UK in bringing back international best practise to the UK, by using global benchmarking, WorldSkills UK is working to power the development of a world-leading technical education sector and it is my hope that this insight can be used to inform the future development of Trailblazers to ensure we continually raise standards to deliver new solutions for our clients and attract the best young talent. Crucial to the rebuilding of the UK economy, and to ensuring the sustainability of our industries, will be highly skilled, motivated young people. That is why, alongside concentrating on recovery strategies, I am urging business leaders to remain focused on supporting the next generation of engineers so they can play an active role in developing the future of our industries.

vfd